The Gambia is a country in West Africa that is bordered on all sides by Senegal except for coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The country has an estimated population of 2,051,363 and experiences a tropical climate. Additionally, with an area of 11,295 km2, The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa. Despite its small size, the country features a variety of habitats that contain a great diversity of flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine. The Gambia has three national parks and other protected areas that help preserve its wildlife.
4. Kiang West National Park
Kiang West National Park encompasses a large area of 19,526 hectares along the south bank of the Gambia River, within the Lower River Division of the Kiang West District. The park was established in 1987 and is currently managed by the Gambia Department of Parks and Wildlife Management. Kiang West National Park’s varying habitats include mangrove creeks, tidal flats, savanna, and dry deciduous woodlands. The protected area is inhabited by numerous fauna, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. Mammals include the African clawless otter, common duiker, spotted hyena, warthogs, and bushbuck, while reptiles such as the African python, venomous spitting cobra, puff adder, Bell’s hinged tortoise, Nile monitor, and West African crocodile are known to inhabit the park. Additionally, the 300 species of birds that reside in the park include many birds of prey, such as vultures, hawks, eagles, and parrots. Despite its potential, Kiang West National Park has developed as a popular tourist destination in The Gambia.
3. Niumi National Park
hahahNiumi National Park is located on the northern coast of The Gambia, at the southern tip of the Sine-Saloum Delta. Established in 1986, the park has an area of 4,940 hectares and features a range of wetlands, including sand spits, brackish lagoons, mangroves, and freshwater marsh. At least 293 species of birds inhabit the park and thrive in its mudflat and swamp habitats. Other notable fauna in Niumi National Park include the patas monkey, spotted hyena, vervet monkey, and desert warthog. Additionally, the park helps protect several threatened species, such as the humpback dolphin, red colobus, and manatees.
2. River Gambia National Park
The River Gambia National Park is one of three national parks in The Gambia. Established in 1978, the park has an area of 585 hectares and is located on the left bank of the Gambia River, within the Niamina East district of the Central River Division, and also includes the Baboon Islands archipelago. River Gambia National Park is part of a chimpanzee reintroduction project introduced in 1979, which protects chimpanzees confiscated from the illegal animal trade. Given the aggressive nature of chimpanzees, the park is closed to public visitation. In addition to chimpanzees, many other primate species inhabit the park, including the western red colobus, marmosets, and Guinea baboon. Hippopotamuses, serval, honey badgers, West African manatees, several types of antelopes also live in River Gambia National Park.
1. Other Important Protected Areas in The Gambia
In addition to its three national parks, wildlife and biodiversity in The Gambia is protected through various nature reserves. For example, these reserves include Abuko Nature Reserve, Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve, Tanbi Wetland Complex, and Tanji Bird Reserve.